It a refrigerator stops working 18 days after the tenant moves in, it is arguable that the damage was NOT caused by the tenant. However, if the written lease states that the tenant is responsible for repairing all appliances, including those that were furnished by the landlord, then the lease controls and the tenant is responsible for repair.
It is common for a lease to hold the tenant responsible for maintaining appliances, and for repairing any damages that the tenant causes (by action or neglect); but it is very unusual for a tenant to have blanket responsibility for repairing the landlord's appliances. Additionally, if a tenant IS responsible for repairs, that does not make the tenant responsible for replacing an appliance that cannot be repaired. I state all of this to say - you both (tenant and landlord) need to read the lease closely to ensure that you have the correct understanding of each party's liability.
I hope this information helps answer your question(s).
~ Kem Eyo
The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between the individual posting the question and the attorney providing the answer.
I agree; how can they say you caused this? That's a pretty rough clause. IF you feel you will continue to end up stuck with paying for appliances down the road, you may want to consider purchasing a home warranty; they average $40 a month or so (American Home Shield, Old Republic Protection, etc.). That way a huge repair bill won't require purchasing a new appliance (a $55-65 deductible vs. a $500 repair).
Again, I agree that clause is pretty harsh. The details (tiny print) in the lease is where your rights begin and end. WIth that being said, the landlord should work with you a bit--they should have some duty to provide you with basics such as a fridge... But again, that's just my opinion.
Just plain over-the-counter commentary, no lawyer-client relationship created. Seek your own counsel for true 'legal' advice. This is just an off-the-cuff response to a short question on the web; not to be construed as legal advice.